Record $26b green energy boost for emissions target bid

Fraser Barton |

The $26 billion investment will fund renewable power, storage and transmission projects.
The $26 billion investment will fund renewable power, storage and transmission projects.

Queensland is planning Australia’s largest green energy investment, with the premier claiming 200,000-plus jobs are at risk if the state does not meet emissions targets. 

Steven Miles believes he has no option but to earmark a record $26 billion over the next four years, saying Queensland is at a “turning point”.

The massive investment will be unveiled in next week’s state budget, ahead of the state election in October.

It will fund renewable power, storage and transmission projects, with $8.68 billion to be farmed out in the next financial year.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick, Premier Steven Miles (file)
Steven Miles fears mass job losses should Queensland waver from its renewables pathway. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The state government has chartered a path to net zero emissions after enshrining targets into law in April.

Queensland is committed to a 50 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2035.

The reforms lock in an 80 per cent renewable energy generation target by 2035 and entrench public ownership of energy assets. 

Mr Miles said economic models indicated Queensland could lose out on 87,000 jobs by 2035 and another 145,000 by 2050 if it failed to meet its emissions targets.

The premier said 85 per cent of those jobs were in the regions in new industries such as critical minerals, advanced manufacturing, hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels.

Queensland would also miss out on $430 billion in economic opportunity by 2050 if targets were not met, he said.

“We don’t have an option,” Mr Miles said of the record renewables investment.

“If Queensland doesn’t meet our renewable energy targets, jobs and growth will be devastated.

“Manufacturing would go offshore and regional jobs and industries would be lost.”

The massive green energy investment was about $7 billion more than previously earmarked.

It will include $16.5 billion on renewable energy and storage projects as well as $500 million for network batteries and support of local grid solutions.

Another $8.5 billion will be used to build “supergrid” infrastructure, including the CopperString project – a 1000km high voltage electricity transmission network in the state’s northwest – and renewable energy zones.

Power-generating windmill turbines
Windfarms are a key element of the Queensland government’s renewable energy plan. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

A further $192 million has been allocated for transmission and training hubs in Townsville and Gladstone.

“Our investment in renewable energy is as important today to our economic future as the investment was in the railways in the second half of the 1800s,” Mr Miles said.

“Nuclear is far more expensive than pumped hydro and can’t be delivered in time to meet our targets.

“That’s why in next week’s budget we are increasing our investment … to $26 billion over the next four years – the largest investment in income-earning publicly owned renewable energy assets in the nation.”

Mr Miles was confident the state would flourish under the government’s renewables plan with wind, solar and proposed pumped-hydro projects.

The Liberal National Party opposition did not support Labor’s renewable energy targets and voted against that bill, but it did support net zero by 2050.

Clean energy group Solar Citizens backed Queensland’s funding injection, saying: “The announcement today is a starting gun on the race-to-the-top on renewables for the Queensland election campaign.”

Queensland Renewable Energy Council said the investment was a “commitment of confidence that we can deliver on the clean energy transition and maximise the benefit for Queensland, particularly in rural and regional parts of our state”.

AAP